30 December 2017

Anti-sharia laws proliferate as Trump strikes hostile tone toward Muslims

Anti-sharia legislation is spreading in state legislatures across the US, as Donald Trump’s hostile stance towards Muslims appears to be emboldening rightwing Islamaphobes.

In 2017 there were 23 new bills introduced in 18 states attempting to prohibit the practice of Islamic religious law, or sharia, in US courts. The rash of new bills brings the total number of such legislative efforts since 2010 to 217 in 43 states, according to the Haas Institute at UC Berkeley which monitors the anti-sharia movement.

Legal experts point out that the bills are superfluous, as the US constitution is the supreme law of the land and any foreign laws are subservient to it. Sharia itself is less a set of laws than religious guidelines, one of which requires Muslims to be law-abiding according to the rules of whichever country they find themselves.

.... Most of the recent bills are careful not to refer overtly to sharia or Islam, as to do so would be to expose the legislation to the scrutiny of federal courts on grounds of religious discrimination. Instead, they talk of “foreign laws” being banned in US jurisdictions. [The Guardian] Read more

29 December 2017

Egypt attack: Gunman targets Coptic Christians in church and shop

Nine people have been killed in two attacks on Coptic Christians in Helwan district, south of Cairo, Egypt's interior ministry has said.

Six civilians and a policeman died when a gunman tried to storm a church but was intercepted and arrested, it said.

It said the man had previously attacked a Coptic-owned shop in the same area, killing two brothers.

The so-called Islamic State (IS) has claimed its "soldiers" carried out the church attack.

The interior ministry's account differs from an earlier version of events given by Egypt's health ministry.

The initial report said 12 were dead, and suggested there were two attackers. It said one had been killed, and the other fled but was later captured.

More than 100 Christians have been killed in Egypt in the past year, with most attacks claimed by the local branch of IS militants. [BBC] Read more

28 December 2017

India aims for law that could jail Muslim men who instantly divorce wives

India’s lower house of parliament passed a bill on Thursday aimed at prosecuting Muslim men who divorce their wives through the “triple talaq”, or instant divorce.

The bill now moves to the upper house of parliament, where it is likely to be approved.

In August, the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional a law which allows Muslim men to divorce their wives simply by uttering the word “talaq”, which means divorce in Arabic, three times.

Muslim women had petitioned the court, arguing the practice of husbands divorcing them through triple talaq not only violated their rights but left many women destitute.

“Only a law can explicitly ban triple talaq, we have to enforce legal procedures to provide for allowances and protect custody of children,” said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. [Reuters] Read more

27 December 2017

German authorities target Islamist women's network

Germany's domestic security agency has identified a radical network made up of Islamist women. Female extremists are becoming increasingly common, as they aim to fill the gap left by their detained husbands.

German intelligence services said on Tuesday that they had identified an Islamist network made up of around 40 women in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state.

Burkhard Freier, the head of the North Rhine-Westphalian Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that the network followed a strict Salafist doctrine — from how to raise children and cooking ingredients, to how to interpret the rules of Islam and stir up hatred against so-called "non-believers."

The result, Freier said, could be something "much more difficult to dissolve, namely Salafist pockets within society." [Deutsche Welle] Read more

26 December 2017

'It is your duty to stop it': Hardline Australian Sharia law preacher says Muslim men shouldn't allow women to get an education if it leads them to have sex outside of marriage

A hardline Islamic preacher who promotes Sharia law says Muslim men have a duty to stop women in their family from going to university.

Nassim Abdi, from western Sydney, said young Muslim women in their late teens and early twenties were at risk of having premarital sex if they delayed marriage to finish a degree.

'There is nothing wrong with a woman getting an education, especially if it's needed,' he said.

'There is nothing wrong with a person delaying marriage if there's an appropriate reason.

'But when you know this step is going to lead to the disobedience of Allah, then upon you dear brother is to stop that if you can.

'Otherwise, you will be held responsible.'

The Sunni fundamentalist, from the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah Association at Auburn in Sydney's west, used the Islamic legal term for premarital sex, Zinnah, to condemn the idea of a woman unnecessarily going to university. [Daily Mail Australia] Read more

Austrian minister's headscarf remark worry Muslims

Recent remarks by Austria's newly appointed Education Minister Heinz Fassmann against the headscarf have raised concerns for Muslims living in the country.

Fassmann's interview published in local Kurier newspaper on Friday quoted him saying "teachers should not wear a headscarf."

When asked about his opinion on the headscarf ban, Fassmann said: “Yes, I have a sympathy for the secular state and find that teachers should not wear a headscarf, except religious and private school teachers.”

The coalition government formed by Austrian People’s Party (OVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) earlier this month, has an anti-Islam and anti-immigrant stance.

Reacting to the interview, President of Islamic Religious Authority in Austria (IGGO) Ibrahim Olgun told Anadolu Agency: “Headscarf is our red line.” [Anadolu Agency] Read more

"Every Muslim is a bit of a salafist": Rotterdam mayor

Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb caused a social media uproar with an interview on NPO Radio 1 in which he said that "every Muslim is a bit of a salafist". PVV leader Geert Wilders called for Aboutaleb's resignation.

The Rotterdam mayor discussed several topics with Thijs van den Brink, but it was his statements regarding Islam that caused a commotion, AD reports. For example, he said he sometimes considers himself a jihadist. "I get up every day at 7 o'clock to do good for a city in the Netherlands.

That is the jihad in its purest form." Van den Brink pointed out that this is not the form "we know in the Netherlands". To which Aboutaleb responded that there are many definitions of jihad, "of which the armed struggle is only one form". "And that also falls apart in the defense and the attack deployment", he said.

Aboutaleb is also not worried about salafism. "Salafists can also be found among Christians, if you approach it linguistically. Salaf is a progenitor, and a salafist is someone who wants to look like his progenitor. For example, a Muslim who wants to look like Mohammed.

In Christianity you also have people who want to look like Christ in their actions. Every Muslim is a bit of a salafist", he said. He thinks salafism should not be banned, but the line should be drawn in the use of violence. The Salafists who want to be violent form a compact group, Aboutaleb said. "You have to track them down and isolate them." [NL Times] Read more

24 December 2017

Crowds attack Coptic Church in Egypt

The incident took place at the Prince Tawadros church in Giza, 100 kilometers (60 miles) outside Cairo, following Friday prayers at a nearby mosque. Demonstrators gathered outside the church building in the afternoon and stormed it, chanting hostile slogans and calling for the church's demolition.

The diocese in Atfih said in a statement that the church's contents were destroyed during the attack and that Christians worshipping at the church were assaulted before security personnel came to their aid. It also said that the wounded were transferred to a nearby hospital but didn't elaborate on numbers or the nature of their injuries.

The church, yet to be sanctioned by the state and thereby gain full legal recognition, has been observing prayers for 15 years. Despite laws recently being eased, local authorities continue to refuse to give building permits for new churches, fearing protests by Muslim conservatives. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Why are British Muslim marriages unprotected by law?

.... "I fought for seven years through solicitors with my husband's family, but in the end, we didn't get a penny. They got nothing and I got nothing because my husband didn't make a will," she told Al Jazeera.

"The house was in his name and we weren't married in English law. In the end, my son and I were thrown out of the house. I remember I had to beg to be let back in to get some clothes we left behind. We just got passed around by the council from place to place until we got a maisonette. I eventually got three little jobs that got us by, but at that time, everything was just a nightmare."

Forty-four years since Maureen's relationship ended, the effects of unregistered marriages continue to affect Muslim women and children who have fallen into this legal black hole. [Al Jazeera English] Read more

22 December 2017

Halal school meals ban could be challenged in court

Councillors in Lancashire voted in October that in future any halal meat served in schools must be butchered from pre-stunned animals, with the exception of poultry.

The ruling on beef and lamb was due to take effect when the council’s meat supply contract was renewed this month.

However, there is a three month period from the time that Full Council made their decision in late October for any party which disagrees with the decision to apply for a judicial review.

The county council has now revealed that it has been served with legal papers from the Lancashire Council of Mosques which effectively puts it on notice that a judicial review could go ahead unless the matter is resolved.

County Coun. Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We are due to put on hold the new contract for supply of halal meat to schools.

“We will continue to supply halal meat under the terms of the current contract while the legal matters are resolved.” [Burnley Express] Read more

The debate about Islam should be put on hold, says Rotterdam mayor

The debate about Islam in the Netherlands has become so tense that it should be put on hold for a while, Rotterdam’s Muslim mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb has told Trouw in an interview. ‘Some debates should wait until the time is right,’ Aboutaleb said. Some politicians and ‘opinion makers’ are forcing the issue with ‘steam and boiling water,’ he said.

‘The Netherlands’ intellectuals consider the time ripe for certain developments but most of the Dutch are not that ready. I am a real believer in the gradual approach.’ While Aboutaleb supports increasing the visibility of religion, he does not compare the Muslim call to prayer to church bells. There is a long tradition of Christianity in the Netherlands, and this is why the city council does not organise events over the Christmas break, he said.

Islam has had a foothold in the Netherlands for 50 years and Muslims are now so emancipated that they are able to build their own mosques, the mayor points out. ‘These sorts of issues are part of social developments and at a certain point they may become more accepted.

In 10 or 20 years, we may come to the point that more is done to mark the end of Ramadan, for example.’ The same goes for the debate about headscarves and police uniform, said Aboutaleb, who supports the status quo. ‘There is no point in having this debate now,’ he said. [DutchNews] Read more

Islamists threaten to crack down on Muslims wearing Santa hats in fatwa against Christmas

The Indonesian police have appealed to Islamic hardliners not to raid businesses to check whether Muslim employees were being forced to wear Santa Claus hats or other Christmas outfits over the festive season.

The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) warned this week that it would conduct “sweeping operations” to enforce a 2016 fatwa by the country’s Islamic Clerical Council prohibiting business owners from forcing employees to don Christmas attire. It claimed this was a violation of their human rights.

“We will raid businesses in anticipation of them being stubborn about this and we will be accompanied by police,” said Novel Bakmukmin, head of the FPI’s branch in the capital, Jakarta.

But national police chief Tito Karnavian urged members of the public to “respect other religions that are carrying out celebrations” and cautioned against taking matters into their own hands. [The Telegraph] Read more

21 December 2017

Canada: Obsessed with "Islamophobia"

.... The RCMP guide is premised on the belief that radicalization occurs because of perceptions of "injustice" (not because of perceptions of jihad). Islamic groups are not mentioned. The message is that terrorism is "diverse" and has nothing to do with Islam. However, Public Safety Canada's list of terrorist entities contains 54 terrorist groups, 46 of which are Islamic terrorist groups.

Meanwhile, the war on free speech in Canada grinds on: Ottawa Public Library cancelled the screening of "Killing Europe", a documentary about, ironically, among other things, the death of free speech in Europe. Ottawa Public Library deemed this content not suitable for Canadians -- apparently snowflakes, not allowed to know about the rise of migrant rape crime, anti-Semitism, far-leftist violence and other irritants in Europe.

While worried about graffiti, Canadian authorities appear far less concerned about deterring Canadian imams from preaching jihad, Jew-hatred and the murder of Jews to their Muslim congregations, despite Jews being approximately twelve times more likely to be targeted for hate crimes than Muslims are. For anti-Muslim graffiti, you go to jail for five months, but inciting an entire congregation to kill Jewish citizens does not even merit prosecution. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Dutch police will set aside headscarf ruling in case brought by Muslim officer

The Dutch police will set aside a ruling from the equal opportunities committee which said a Muslim officer should be able to wear a headscarf while dealing with phone reports from the public, the national force has confirmed.

Rotterdam police chief Frank Paauw has written to human rights commission outlining the force’s position and stating that a neutral appearance is crucial to good policing.

Sarah Izat who took the issue to the commission has not yet commented on the decision. She will be able to continue to answer calls via the phone or video link in plain clothes with a headscarf, Paauw said.

Justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus said in a reaction to MPs last month that the human rights council had stressed the legitimacy of the the importance of a neutral, uniform police appearance. The police code of conduct states that police officers are not allowed to display religious and other lifestyle convictions while dealing with the public, Grapperhaus said. [DutchNews] Read more

Board member of anti-racism agency fired amid accusations of Islamophobic commentary

A board member with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, an arms-length federal government agency established to counteract racism, has been fired amid concerns over what Muslim advocacy groups describe as “Islamophobic commentary” and her “public association with purveyors of hateful propaganda.”

.... Douglass-Williams addressed her dismissal in an email to the Star and on Jihad Watch.

“Why? Because I dared to criticize political Islam,” she wrote.

“I make a distinction between those who practice Islam in peace and harmony with others, and those with an agenda to usurp democratic constitutions, demand special privileges over other creeds and who advocate the abuse of women and innocents as a supremacist entitlement.

“It is odd to be removed from a race relations foundation for my private work in criticizing this aspect of Islam, of which the latter is not a race.” [Toronto Star] Read more

Algerian arrested for smashing 'haram' statue's breasts

An Algerian man was arrested after he had vandalised a famous statue, removing the breasts and facial features, in what he deemed to be a religious act.

Algeria's Minister of Culture Ez Al Din al-Maheoubi said the man was caught vandalising the Ain El Fouara monument, which was built over 120 years ago in the city of Setif.

“His motive was indeed religious, but this does not excuse his actions”, al-Maheoubi said.

On Monday, police were trying to stop the man, who was attempting to chisel off the statue’s breasts with a hammer, from continuing his damage.

A crowd quickly formed and people began to take videos, which went viral in Algeria. [The New Arab] Read more

Poll: 70 Per Cent of Swiss Would Be ‘Disturbed’ by Increase in Muslim Population

The survey, which was conducted by the publishing firm Tamedia, is the first of its kind in Switzerland, and shows the older generations is particularly concerned with the growth of Islam in the country: 75 per cent of those aged over 65 feel negative about an increase in the Muslim population, newspaper 24 heures reports.

Supporters of the anti-mass migration Swiss People’s Party (SVP) were also strongly against an increase in the Muslim population, with 93 per cent against the further growth of Islam in the country.

72 per cent of “centrists” felt the same way, as did a significant minority — 38 per cent — of supporters of the left-wing Green and Socialist parties.

.... The Swiss poll mirrors similar attitudes in France and Germany, where residents have massively rejected the expansion of Islam into their countries. [Breitbart London] Read more

20 December 2017

Government rejects Swiss ‘burka ban’ initiative

The Swiss Federal Council has proposed an indirect counterproposal to an initiative calling for a nationwide ban on face-covering headgear: forcing another person to wear a burka or niqab should be made illegal.

On Wednesday, the Federal Council recommended that voters reject the so-called “burka ban” initiative, which was handed in with enough signatures by its promotors, the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, in September. No date has yet been set for the vote.

The initiative wants face-covering headgear to be banned in public places all over Switzerland apart from a few exceptions, such as for health reasons.

National restrictions are only appropriate to prevent coercion of women or if people are in contact with certain authorities, such as migration officials, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga. It is up to cantons to decide on how they regulate people in public spaces, she added. [swissinfo.ch] Read more

Amir Khan and wife Faryal Makhdoom receive death threats for putting up a Christmas tree

Bolton boxer Amir Khan has been targeted with online death threats - because he decided to put up a Christmas tree.

I'm A Celebrity star Amir - a devout Muslim - shared a picture his Christmas tree on Instagram - and one of his followers threatened to kill him for 'betraying' his religion.

Other made threats against his family - including his pregnant wife Faryal and and his three year old daughter Lamaisah.

“While everyone’s asleep, daddy put the Christmas tree up," Amir posted, alongside a picture of the decorated tree. 'Lamaisah’s going to be happy. Christmas #MerryChristmas2017.” [Manchester Evening News] Read more

Men without beards cause 'indecent thoughts' in other men, claims Turkish preacher

Shaving off a beard may trigger indecent thoughts in other men who look at them, a Turkish cleric said on television earlier this week, causing backlash online.

Clean-shaven men, the cleric suggested, "cannot be distinguished from women" and can therefore cause "indecent thoughts," Murat Bayaral said on private religious station Fatih Medreseleri, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

“Men should grow beards. One of the two body parts that separate men from women is the beard," Bayaral said.

"For example, if you see a man with long hair from afar you may think he is a woman if he does not have a beard. Because nowadays women and men dress similarly. God forbid! You could be possessed by indecent thoughts,” he added.

The comments sparked a flurry of opinions across social media with many describing the logic as “absurd”. [The New Arab] Read more

19 December 2017

I wasn’t hired because I wear a headscarf: lawsuit

Fatima Sidib says she applied to work as a customer service rep at Checks Cashed at East 161st Street and Gerard Avenue in August, according to the Manhattan federal court suit.

The shop manager invited her in for an interview over the phone — but immediately got “hostile” when she arrived wearing the religious headwear, court papers state.

“Are you going to be wearing that thing?” the manager said, according to the lawsuit. “Because you will not be able to work with that on. Or will that be a problem for you?”

When Sidib said she wears the scarf sometimes when she fasts, the manager shot back that that meant she wouldn’t be available to work some of the needed shifts, court papers state.

The manager handed Sidib her job application back — and told to return when she was “more flexible,” according to the lawsuit. [NEW YORK POST] Read more

Nottingham-based Muslim radio station falls foul of Ofcom

For the second time this year, Radio Dawn has fallen foul of rules laid down by UK broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom.

Last December, the station broadcast a piece of devotional vocal music known as a nasheed that praised the Taliban which included the line:

"It must be understood that justice will only be handed out at the point of the sword."

When Ofcom censured Dawn in August, Karimia, the licensee, said it was “extremely embarrassed by what happened” and that it did “not agree with any of the content”. The licensee assured Ofcom it was:

"Against any type of material, which encourages or promotes such discriminative and negative messages of Islam."

It explained that staff were away on holiday on the day of broadcast (26 December 2016) and, as a result, Radio Dawn was automatically broadcasting pre-recorded material. The nasheed had been downloaded from the internet in 2013, “possibly by a volunteer”, and had “never been broadcast before”.

Well, Radio Dawn has found itself in trouble with Ofcom again – this time over advice given by scholar “Mufti1” to a caller in a phone-in programme regarding fasting and diabetes. In May this year the caller was told that Muslims with health issues should only consult Muslim scholars or Muslim doctors.

The station, according to this report, apologised and said that: On no account was it the intention of the presenter or Radio Dawn to suggest to listeners that they do not seek appropriate medical advice. [The Freethinker] Read more

German ban on Islamist group True Religion confirmed as complaints dropped

German federal prosecutors on Tuesday finalised their ban on an Islamist association accused of radicalising youngsters, saying that complaints about the ban from two members of the group had been withdrawn.

Last year, the interior ministry banned the Islamist group “True Religion,” saying it had persuaded about 140 people to join militants in Iraq and Syria.

Following the ban, police launched dawn raids across Germany on about 190 mosques, flats and offices linked to the group.

The federal prosecutor said that since the association itself had not complained about the ban and the two members’ complaints had been withdrawn, the prohibition ruling was final.

The case comes as Germany commemorates last year’s Islamist-motivated attack on a Berlin Christmas Market which killed 12 people and injured many others. [Reuters] Read more

18 December 2017

Radio Dawn told listeners to ignore non-Muslim doctors

A Muslim radio station has been reprimanded by Ofcom after an Islamic scholar advised a sick listener to ignore the advice of non-Muslim doctors.

The scholar, who was described on the phone-in programme as “the Mufti”, said that it was unacceptable for a diabetic to miss fasting days during Ramadan on the recommendation of a non-Muslim.

“If it is a non-Muslim doctor who is giving the advice, well their advice carries no weight. It has no importance whatsoever,” he told a caller during a phone-in on Radio Dawn, which broadcasts in Punjabi to Muslims in Nottingham. [The Times (£)] Read more

Islamic preacher in Turkey says men without beards may cause ‘indecent thoughts’

An Islamic preacher in Turkey has drawn a backlash after suggesting that clean-shaven men sometimes "cannot be distinguished from women" and can cause "indecent thoughts."

Speaking on the private religious station Fatih Medreseleri (Madrasahs) TV on Dec. 16, preacher Murat Bayaral blasted beardless men and said there is no need to receive permission from wives for a man to shave his beards.

“Men should grow beards. One of the two body parts that separate men from women is the beard," Bayaral said.

"For example, if you see a man with long hair from afar you may think he is a woman if he does not have a beard. Because nowadays women and men dress similarly. God forbid! You could be possessed by indecent thoughts,” he added. [Hürriyet Daily News] Read more